With the Worcester Railers inaugural season just over one year away Railers HC Owner Cliff Rucker and President Mike Myers have long since started putting together the off-ice staff. Tuesday saw the first hockey operations hiring, with long time NCAA coach Jamie Russell being named the franchise’s first head coach and general manager.
Over the last two seasons Russell has held those same two positions with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, a likely division rival for the Railers. While missing the playoffs both seasons Russell improved on the Jackals record each of his two seasons there and finished his tenure with the a better than .500 record despite the Jackals’ NHL affiliate Buffalo Sabres and AHL affiliate Rochester Americans being well under that line themselves.
Not only was there affiliation issues in Elmira, the smallest market in the ECHL, but there was also ownership problems. Jackals co-owners Tom Freeman and Nate Cook essentially walked away from the team just before the start of the 2014-15 season, ceding control of the franchise’s business operations to Chemung County. That’s hardly a good situation for a general manager to be in, and that’s completely different than the strong ownership Railers HC has.
Rucker has proclaimed numerous times his intention is to win here in Worcester, and the hiring of Russell should be a step in the right direction.
Last week the Railers dipped into Worcester’s hockey past by hiring former WorSharks broadcaster Eric Lindquist as Vice President of Marketing and Communications. Lindquist had moved out to California when San Jose moved their AHL affiliation to the west coast, but returned back to the East Coast after just one season. With the instant recognition he brings to Worcester’s hockey fans Lindquist is the perfect choice to fill the communications and marketing role.
Although there’s obviously been no radio deal announced yet Lindquist will do play by play for Railers HC once their games begin.
Other than some congratulatory words to Eric on Twitter I haven’t had an opportunity to speak to either him nor Coach Russell yet, but I am hoping to get that chance soon. Luckily we can hear from both of them at the same time as on Wednesday afternoon the Railers released the first part of a video interview hosted by Lindquist featuring Russell.
Edited to add the second portion of the interview…